We have to talk about suicide

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September is Suicide Prevention Month and I’m wondering why this topic isn’t trending on Twitter. It is such an important subject to talk about. But very few people do. Very few people want to engage with the fact that people kill themselves. How often are victims accused of being selfish, crazy or psycho?

This image sums it up perfectly:

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Suicide is a subject close to my heart  because I almost reached that point a few years ago. I blogged about this in a previous post: Celebrating a year of living.

In South Africa, where I live, there is a suicide nearly every hour. This figure could be higher because many incidents aren’t reported. According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa has the eighth highest suicide rate in the world. Suicide is also the third greatest cause of unnatural death in the country.

 

People should talk about suicide. If someone tells you they are suicidal, believe them. They aren’t joking.

 

 

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RIP Robin Williams

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robin williams

 

Today I’m saddened by the news of the apparent suicide of this great actor. I have many special memories watching his movies. The ones that stand out for me are Aladdin (he was the voice of the genie), Mrs Doubtfire (who doesn’t remember that?!) and Dead Poets Society. He become known as the funniest man alive, but in the end he had to face his demons alone – he saw no other way to deal with his struggle with depression and addiction. It is tragic to think how alone he must have felt in those final moments.

robin williams quote

Second chances, a cup of tea and a conversation

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suicide

Isn’t this story just amazing? I saw this on my Facebook feed this morning and the story has been on my mind the whole day.  Suicide is a subject that is very close to my heart because I was there a few months ago. It is a very scary place to find yourself in – to be so lonely and completely desperate that you see no other way out.

Whenever I hear about someone who has taken their own life, I always wonder about the circumstances that brought that person to the point where they are so desperate that they see no way out. Was there no one they could talk to? Did anyone listen or take them seriously? What if they had someone, like the man in this story, who took the time to listen? That’s quite a story to tell, don’t you think? A second chance at life, all thanks to a cup of tea and a conversation.

I remember that night when I contemplated suicide. I just wanted out. I had no interest in life anymore and the war within me was just too much. My my mind was racing with all kinds of thoughts: would it work, how long would it take, what if it doesn’t work. This isn’t something I talk about often – it isn’t exactly the greatest conversation starter –  but it was a significant moment in my life. The turning point. I knew something was really wrong.

I am so grateful that I got a second chance at life. In that moment I realised that my suicide would destroy other people and cause so much pain and I didn’t want to do that to anyone. I didn’t want my son to grow up without a mother, either. When I gained some perspective (weeks later after intensive therapy) I realised that I didn’t want to end my life – I wanted to end the pain. And there were so many better ways deal with that pain.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done was continuing my life when I wanted to die.